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About the Story
Christmas Eve! You tell Bob to go home early; tidy up a little, and lock up the office shortly after four. You look on the old brass plate, which still reads “Scrooge & Marley”, probably for the last time.
Entrant - The penultimate not numbered Speed IF
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Number of Reviews: 4
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There's some flexibility with Speed-IF. People are given several things to put in a game and a soft time limit of three developing hours. TMV follows all the rules except the time limit, and that was the right one to break.
The reader quickly sees the game is based on A Christmas Carol, and the title gives away the plot's basic outline. Scrooge, is once again visited by three ghosts, and he needs to use what he sees to foil his evil twin's plan--people trust Scrooge TOO much now. There's all sorts of Dickensian intrigue with opium dens and dark alleys and such without directly copying Dickens, and while there's no shortage of good description--much of which makes some good puzzles clearer--the game never really textwalls the player.
And why should things be impossible? I don't think many people think A Christmas Carol suffers from being shorter or easier to read than Bleak House. The ghostly visits also provide natural breaks when that give a great idea of how far along you are, so the game is well-paced.
A bonus point: when I was part of the group that played this at Club Floyd, at several points we realized where the idea suggestions for the Penultimate Not Numbered Speed-IF would be dropped in, and it all fit in well. Not just for a few belly laughs, which is perfectly good in speed-IF, but even Doom III brought out part of the author's alternate Victorian London. This sort of thing would be terribly corny in a graphic adventure (I bet people could muck up the ghosts, too,) but with text, you don't have as many tools to overdo things.
This game stayed with me enough to write a review of it three months after playing it on ClubFloyd. While I haven't played nearly as many text adventures as I want to, I can't imagine too many stronger first efforts than this, and I can't imagine many stronger speed-IFs, either. TMV seems easy to enjoy whether or not you've read Dickens's original. So I don't know if anyone has any holiday text adventure traditions, but TMV could be a very nice one to start.
The quality of the writing is what elevates this game to another tier among 'quickie' games. Even without comparing it to other SpeedIF (which is not known for its prose) Three More Visitors is quite solid and enjoyable. It is just the right length and not too difficult, nor too simple. The premise of the story itself makes for a perfect IF scenario: to review an unpleasant future and then go back to the present to prevent it. Three More Visitors is really impressive for its beauty, simplicity, and the ability to connect the player empathetically to the plot and characters so quickly.
I found the game moving and very well-written. The descriptions are not only "descriptive" but also very narrative, which gives a litterary feeling.
We are very passive at several moments of the story, but it is emblematic of the whole game: we know what to do, we know what actions will make the story progress. We can speak of interactive fiction as "participatory reading" or "engaging reading" when the actions are limited, simple, ultra-obvious, simply allowing the player to read a story while having the pleasant impression of collaborating in its unfolding. It is like turning pages, but more active; we act in an intradiegetic way instead of simply acting on the very object that is the support of the work.
This is almost more a short-story with slight participation of the reader, than an actual "text game". For example, (Spoiler - click to show)the key is useless: you have it from the beginning of the game, with no reason to lose it, and no reason not to be able to open the door (unless you drop the key before trying to enter; but why to do such a thing?). The author could just as easily have connected the "Courtyard" room and the inside of the house, without a door in between. I interpret the fact that he chose to implement a door and a key as the will to stick to Interactive Fiction standards. The objects and the organization of space are not necessary, but correspond to a tradition.
That said, there are a few embryonic puzzles — (Spoiler - click to show) I would never have thought to give this coin to the Chinese if the ghost hadn't suggested it to me... This is the first "puzzle" of the game, and although it is the simplest ever conceived (there is no other possibility than to give this piece to the man) it surprises relatively because until then the story was progressing more or less on rails. The fact that the author felt the need to suggest what to do to the player suggests that he was aware that he was creating a break, however small it might be. — that didn't diminish the pleasure I had reading/playing Three More Visitors.
Longer review here : https://me-myself-if.blogspot.com/2020/01/three-more-visitors-by-paul-stanley.html
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